Through the weekend, OnlyGators.com will take a look at each of the four seniors that will be honored on Saturday afternoon when the men’s basketball program celebrates Senior Day at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
It started in the season opener against North Florida when senior forward Casey Prather, leading the Florida Gators while half of his team was out of action due to either injury or suspension, doubled his career-high with 28 points in 34 minutes.
What was thought to be an aberration was quickly realized to be the new normal for Prather and the Gators as he scored 19 more points in five of the next nine contests and received well-deserved praise for carrying Florida to an 8-2 record in a difficult 10-game stretch to open the 2013-14 campaign.
And while he appeared to blossom overnight, his elevation from energy roleplayer to efficient scorer was more accurately a well-planted seed that head coach Billy Donovan watered, nurtured and watched as it slowly grew over a four-year period.
A highly-rated prospect out of Jackson, TN who was considered one of the 75 best high school players in the country in 2010, Prather barely saw the court in his first two seasons and mostly watched from the bench as his veteran teammates advanced to and fell in consecutive Elite Eights.
“Maybe the lowest moment [was] my early years – as a freshman – not playing as much as I thought I should or not contributing as much as I thought I could,” he admitted on Monday when he also noted that transferring was at one point a consideration.